Who says faux can’t be fun? Emerging brand, Maison Atia, which recently opened a store on Madison Avenue, is seeking to disrupt the faux fur market by translating the luxury touch of real fur to their new material. A combination of high-end craftsmanship and traditional fur heritage techniques, Maison Atia creates chic coats and accessories through their limited collections.
Maison Atia, which is already gaining the attention of A-listers, including model Gigi Hadid, was started by Chloe Mendel and Gustave Maisonrouge. Chloe, 27, whose father is Gilles Mendel of the famous J Mendel brand, known for making haute gowns and REAL fur, is the sixth generation of the house of Mendel. Let’s just say she grew up around glamour and is now bringing her own touch to each and every piece. Chloe lives between New York and Chicago with her son, Augustus, and partner Billy Corgan. We spoke with Chloe about how she started her brand and what she envisions for her very fashionable future.
What inspired you to use faux fur? Is this something you are passionate about?
I am the sixth generation of a long line of furriers. I had been thinking for quite some time of taking this heritage, identifying craftsmen who still use these old-school fur techniques and working closely with them to take their unique savoir faire into the faux fur medium to create animal cruelty-free luxury faux fur creations. It was a journey for everyone as they had never worked this material.
I have been involved for years with Paws Chicago, a leading no-kill shelter in North America, and have adopted five animals from them over the years, so it felt as if the stars were aligned – from the moment we launched, we created our #BuyACoatSaveAPuppy campaign, which provides a homeless pet transportation to one of their shelters for every coat we sell.
What makes the brand so unique? Is customizing a crucial component?
As a brand, our DNA is to create luxury faux fur pieces, only using the best quality products, with an almost couture-like approach to each style, with details that the luxury client appreciates. It does require real knowledge of our processes, and we always need to share our story and our philosophy with potential new customers so that they can understand how and why we are different.
We have a number of small capsule collections so each coat is practically unique so our client has not yet felt the need to ask for customization. We are however customizing pieces for our 833 Collection that lives in our ephemeral boutique, with vintage patches making each coat totally unique to each person.
How did your vegan leather sneaker partnership come about?
My co-founder, Gustave Maisonrouge, has known the founders of Koio Collective since they launched in 2016. Their vision is aligned with ours as they too work only with the finest materials, using the best shoe craftsmen in their field, who are all based in Italy. We all met last summer 2018 to see how we could each tap into our respective expertise to work together and create a sneaker with fabrics that are part of our Classic and also Fall 2019 collection, using vegan leather and faux fur.
Koio was amazing in challenging their craftsmen in Italy to use our fabrics – a first for them. Koio is as perfectionist as we are, so It took over a year to receive our capsule collection: it was definitely worth the wait as everyone is raving about them!
Why did you choose Madison to open your first boutique as opposed to a downtown location?
Gustave and I grew up in the Upper East Side, and we love our neighborhood and it felt right to both of us to be here. On top of that, Madison Avenue remains ‘the’ luxury destination in New York. So we decided to focus our search and zoom in on this neighborhood, specifically from the low 60s to the high 70s. Personally, it also had a sentimental component: I always dreamed of having one day a boutique on Madison Avenue, as I grew up hearing how my father, Gilles Mendel, was 27 years old when he opened his first boutique on Madison avenue. I am now the same age, and I feel it is one of the hopefully many ways I can show him how much he has shaped me to be the woman I am today.
Future plans to open other locations?
We would very much like to open other locations in the future, but the reality is that It is challenging to find the right combination of location that makes sense for us, overall space and layout: we could not have dreamed of a more perfect boutique for us than 833 Madison: not only is the location ideal (hard to beat being on the same block as Prada!), but the boutique itself was perfect for us. Its vibrant colors match our playful attitude towards luxury. Gustave was keen on making the boutique a truly experiential space, and envisioned hosting not just a number of events, but also other brands – as I mentioned earlier, we look forward to hosting McLaren, and iconic jewelry brand Marina B, and welcomed WeR2 last week and had a discussion between Suchi Reddy, the founder, and Wendy Goodman. So the fact that the store is on two floors, which some brands find challenging as it is tough to get clients to go much past the front of the store, was the perfect layout to host panel discussions while keeping the first floor open for customers who want to discover the brand.
Did your family’s fashion background make you want to enter the design world?
I always knew I would do something creative, but wasn’t sure where it would take me. My brother took his creativity into the world of music, which is as challenging as the world of fashion. I did do a number of internships at my father’s Atelier, and I believe that ‘s when my ideas crystallized, and that’s when I first came up with the idea of taking the family heritage into faux fur, and offering women alternatives if they wanted to look and feel glamorous.
I’m 27 years old! I honestly don’t have much background! I’m still figuring it out everyday. Besides interning for J.Mendel, I managed my partner Billy Corgan’s tea shop called Madame ZuZu’s in Highland Park, Illinois. We are currently reopening for Spring 2020 (which is very exciting). I guess my background is an eclectic collection of many unique experiences beyond design and motherhood.
Favorite New York spots?
With two young children I barely go out! But I do love tea at the Lowell Hotel, the Central Park Zoo, and dinner at JoJos restaurant. My children LOVE the Natural History Museum.